Recently, the government through the National Information Technology Authority (NITA) announced that they will provide free WiFi hotspot (wireless internet) dubbed #MyUG in Kampala city using the existing Fiber National backbone Infrastructure. This news was welcomed with mix emotions especially the majority who were suspicious of this move by government to offer internet as a free public good. NITA-U has come out to clarify in an FAQ all the burning questions from the public and we have summarized the 10 most important things you must know about this new internet service.
1. Location of service
The service will initially be available in Kampala CBD and some areas in Entebbe whoever, NITA says that additional residential areas will be covered using a phased approach. They have also promised a detailed coverage hotspot location list that they will be share on their various social media platforms as we roll out the service.
2. Time to use service
The #MyUG initiative is to make use of internet bandwidth that is not being utilized by Government offices after official working hours. This initiative is to utilize the internet bandwidth to provide a free service to the Public.
3. Competing with the Telecos
NITA-U says that they are not competing with ISPs. The #MyUG initiative complements the provision of internet wireless access to the Public.
4. Security concerns
According to NITA-U, they have implemented industry standard security controls and measures in order to provide a safe and secure service for the Government departments and ministries whose bandwidth will be used, as well as for users who log on to the service. NITA-U will monitor usage in the following ways;
a. Login sessions will be monitored to flag suspicious usage patterns
b. Access will be through a firewall that protects the end users against any internet threat
5. Speeds to expect
The Public accessing the #MyUG service shall enjoy maximum speeds of up to 2mbps. They aim at providing a service that meets basic internet access needs and complements access provided by Commercial Internet Providers.
We intend to offer a reliable service of up to 99.7% availability.
7. Capacity of the Backbone Infrastructure to support the Free Wi-Fi initiative
The National Backbone Infrastructure has two rings that offer bi-directional protection to traffic carried on the network thus providing redundancy and reliability. NITA-U also runs a Network Operations Center (NOC) that has 24/7 view of the entire network and can therefore immediately identify and mitigate any network issues.
8. What plans are in place to enhance equitable access across the country?
NITA-U is extending the National Backbone Infrastructure to cover the entire country. Priority is being placed on Universities, Schools, Hospitals and Local Governments, which reach a large number of users accessing critical information and social service data off the internet.
9. Why do I need to register my details?
Initially NITA has asked what seemed to look like some one was signing away their lives when they subscribe to the service. They have come out to assure the public that it is important to note that all information gathered will be treated as confidential. As per industry best practice, user registration is mandatory for authentication and for access to Government services. The information gathered during registration and use of the service may be used internally to improve the #MyUG service as well as advise NITA-U on how to develop more services and rollout special offers to the Public.
10. Any other terms and conditions
Where as NITA-U gives more terms and conditions in the login page we shall give you some here. There will be a time limit of 30 minutes where one will be allowed to stay connected to the free WiFi hotspot, after this time elapses and one is not using the network, they will be disconnected and they will have to login again to resume using the service. As per now there is no download limitation (unlimited at 2mbps) but NITA has promised to implement precautions depending on user patterns.
For those wondering which kind of sites will be restricted to the public, these will include; Pornographic websites, sites blacklisted for malware, violence Inciting websites (Terrorist groups) and Bit torrent sites